Welcoming New Faculty Member, Byb Bibene

October 4, 2021
Byb Bibene Headshot outdoors with trees in the background

The Department of Theatre Arts & Dance is excited to welcome, Byb Bibene as a new teacher of dance.

Byb is teaching DANC 115D - African Dance Forms (being offered for the first time) and DANC 310B/410B - Contemporary Dance Forms this Fall semester.

Byb is a brilliant artist, teacher, performer, and human and we are so grateful to have him sharing his embodied knowledge with our students. - Christine Cali, Chair


Please read below a brief interview with Byb Bibene:

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi there, I’m Byb Bibene. It’s not easy for me to say something about who I am. Let’s try this. I am a human, born and raised in the Republic of Congo. I am a dance educator, performer, choreographer and artistic director of Kiandanda Dance Theater and Mbongui Square Festival. I have been teaching dance for several years in studios, high schools and colleges. After teaching for a few semesters at UC Berkeley right after graduating from Saint Mary’s College, I’m thrilled to be teaching the students at Sonoma State University. When I am not teaching dance or performing, I’m busy fighting financial illiteracy and teaching financial concepts to the underserved communities or to anyone needing help with their finances. Well, I’m also a financial major with a BS and MF.

Can you tell us a little about your history with dance?
I grew up in a culture in which dance is prevalent, dance is a way of life, it’s everywhere, everyday. I was exposed to dance before I was born. However, dancing professionally is not something I dreamed of. Dance chose me in a way. While pursuing my studies, I danced and performed simultaneously but not as something I wanted to do for a career. However, when I was completing my master degree in finance, I was selected for a dance contest in Paris/France. I went competing and won two awards at an international dance competition. Ever since, I signed contracts, and worked and toured worldwide. Well, twenty plus years later, here I am, a dance educator and a professional dance artist. 

What do you love most about dance?
Dance is not something separate from my life, it’s a part of me, an identity in a way. It’s almost another organ in my body. An invisible organ. However, teaching dance to my students and seeing them grow and achieve their dreams in dance is what I love the most.  

What excites you most about teaching dance and what do you hope to bring to the classroom? Is there anything you want to highlight about African Dance Forms and Contemporary Dance Forms?
There are many aspects of dance that excite me. The practice of dance for me is a way to build a community, a way to be with people, meet them, learn about them and share positive energy. This is crucial for our health and dance becomes healing. Besides the technique, dance has to emerge from a place of intrinsic joy or needs to elevate the spirit of the body. African dance forms come from a place of living together as a community and sharing precious moments. African dance forms, when taught properly, connect the body to the environment, teach the relationship between the physical and the metaphysical, teach to reach a certain level of transcendence because the body exists in the internal space as much as in the external space. For me, in my practice, African dance forms are a springboard to contemporary dance forms. The movement aesthetic of traditional African dances gives me so much room to explore the body and be creative. This dance form is very much informed by its translation of natural elements (water, fire, wind, trees...) and social events (birth, death, rituals...). However, having studied contemporary dance forms from the Western perspective, I have multiple windows of access.